A day to celebrate, a day to remember

Today is a day to celebrate, a day to remember. Mark this day in your calendar, mark this day in your heart.

At 16:00 this afternoon, 27 March 2014, the Peace Panels of the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GPH) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) will sign the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) at Malacanang Palace in Manila – the long sought comprehensive peace agreement required to establish a just and lasting peace in the conflict-affected areas of Mindanao. The signing will be witnessed by Philippine President Benigno S. Aquino, MILF Chairman Al Haj Murad Ebrahim, and a host of dignitaries, diplomats, Government officials, MILF officials, peace advocates, and others. Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak will represent the Government of Malaysia, which brokered the peace talks that took place over a seventeen-year period.

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Roughly forty years of conflict are coming to an official end and the prospects of a new age in Mindanao, means a new age in the rapidly evolving Philippines as a whole

From my point of view, this day is the most important, as well as encouraging, in a very long time. Roughly forty years of conflict are coming to an official end and the prospects of a new age in Mindanao, means a new age in the rapidly evolving Philippines as a whole. The road ahead will not necessarily be smooth and the journey to full peace, justice, inclusiveness, opportunity, and environmentally-friendly socio-economic development in the Bangsamoro – as well as the rest of the Philippines – is likely to be more arduous than many presently expect. However, this is a journey well worth taking and one I urge all involved with CFSI to fully, firmly, consistently, and publicly support.

Please join me in paying respect and giving gratitude to all those who gave the best of themselves – for some, their very lives – to achieve this great milestone. Join me in my commitment to share often and everywhere the stories of the many people, well known and not well known, who played, and continue to play, a part, big or small, in the pursuit of a just and lasting peace. Join me in renewing my determination to do everything I can to build support for the full and timely implementation of the CAB and the emerging Bangsamoro. And join me in reaffirming our mutual commitment to the promotion of peace, respect for human rights, and the equitable distribution of resources.

Finally, but no less important, join me in congratulating – and thanking – CFSI Board Member Atty. Michael Mastura who serves on the MILF Peace Panel and has worked, tirelessly, for a just and lasting peace over many, many years. To you, Datu Mastura, we thank you for your many personal sacrifices, dedicated effort, and continued inspiration.

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